Review: The Name of the Star
While her parents are on sabbatical in Bristol, Louisiana-native Rory attends a boarding school in London. Shortly after she arrives, a series of Jack the Ripper-esque murders occur, and Rippermania takes over London. As if settling into English life isn’t hard enough for Rory (who, in her first days at school, embarrassingly chokes on a piece of meat in the dining hall while telling stories about her eccentric relatives), she also has to endure the horror of knowing that there’s a murderer on the loose.
Rory and her classmates get caught up in all of the Ripper news footage. They are as surprised as everybody else in London to find that crime scene video footage only shows the victims, not the killer. Based on the previous Jack the Ripper killings, the police know approximately when and where the killer will strike, but that only adds to the fear as everyone counts down until the next murder.
On the night of one of the murders, Rory and her roommate (oh so intelligently) break the rules to watch the Ripper news from the roof of a nearby building. As she returns to her room, Rory talks to a man who she soon discovers is the only suspect in the case, and she is the only one who has seen him. Rory gets wrapped up in the investigation, finding that her knowledge of this man may prove more dangerous than she ever could have imagined.
You know how Maureen Johnson’s tweets are a combination of creepy and hilarious? (If you don’t know, you obviously need to go follow her on Twitter RIGHT NOW.) Basically, The Name of the Star is JUST LIKE THAT. It has all of the humor and romance and quirkiness of Johnson’s usual novels, but it is also about as thrilling as thrillers get. Johnson has shown me that I can once again actually love a paranormal boarding school novel, it just has to be well-written. She managed to take story elements that have become overdone and boring and turn them into an unpotdownable page-turner.
Readers who typically enjoy boarding school stories with paranormal twists are especially sure to enjoy this book, but those who don’t normally feel comfortable in the genre should not let that stop them. Rory’s southern charm, London’s atmospheric setting, and the Ripper’s mystique all contribute to making this first book in the Shades of London series a success. Just make sure you check under the bed before dimming the lights and crawling into bed with this creepy tale.